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Friedrich looks to get himself back on the mound

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.-- A Spring Training lengthened by the World Baseball Classic could work in the favor of left-hander Christian Friedrich in his bid to win a spot in the Rockies' starting rotation.

For now, Friedrich is not on the Cactus League pitching schedule. The Rockies' first-round Draft pick in 2008, Friedrich made the majors last season, but didn't pitch after July 28 because of a stress fracture in his lower back. Friedrich had back soreness just before this Spring Training began, and recent neck stiffness further delayed him. But Friedrich reported Friday morning that he is much better, and is pushing to get back on the mound.

Before the neck stiffness, Friedrich was completing a long-toss regimen and nearing the point where he was throwing off the slope of the mound. With no further setbacks, he hopes to reach the point where he is a serious candidate for the Opening Day roster.

"I don't know how far behind the other guys they're willing to let me get and still be taken into consideration," Friedrich said. "Once I start throwing off the bump, I'll start asking those questions and see how far I am behind the other guys."

Friedrich went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 starts with the Rockies.